MLB Odds & Picks for Cardinals vs. Phillies: Value Lies on Road Underdog
Ed Zurga/Getty Images. Pictured: Nolan Arenado
- The Phillies host the Cardinals in an intriguing Sunday Night Baseball matchup.
- Fans will be treated to an elite pitching matchup, too, as Adam Wainwright and Zack Wheeler are slated to start.
- Tanner McGrath breaks down the matchup and provides his best bet below.b
Cardinals vs. Phillies Odds
|Time||7:08 p.m. ET|
The Phillies won a ridiculous 19 games in June. Despite Bryce Harper hitting the Injured List, Kyle Schwarber led an offense that scored enough runs to get Philadelphia back in the NL Wild Card race.
In the meantime, the Cardinals have stalled. They went 15-14 in June and now sit two games back of the Brewers in the NL Central. The Redbirds have an intriguing roster that can compete with anyone when things are right, but things are not always right.
The Phillies enter this game 2.5 games back of the Cardinals for a Wild Card spot.
So, this is not an inconsequential Sunday Night Baseball game. It’s also fun that we get a star-studded pitching matchup with Adam Wainwright and Zack Wheeler taking the mound in primetime.
Where does the value lie?
St. Louis Cardinals: Can Redbirds Continue to Exceed Expectations?
As mentioned, the Cardinals have stalled. They’ve been far outplaying expectations, but it’s going to be hard for this aging roster to get over the hump and take down the Brewers.
This is a fantastic offense. Driven by Paul Goldschmidt’s ridiculous 1.054 OPS, the Cardinals have posted a top-10 wRC+ over the past month. And you obviously can’t sleep on guys like Nolan Arenado (148 OPS+) or Tommy Edman (4.4 bWAR).
The Redbirds’ defense is a fascinating case study. Widely regarded as the best defense in the game, the Cardinals’ pitching staff has had one of the highest FIP-ERAs of the past few years. But St. Louis has been just barely above league average in Defensive Runs Saved (11th) and Outs Above Average (7th) this season.
Take Goldschmidt for example. Just a year removed from winning the Gold Glove at first base, Goldy currently ranks 39th of 41 qualified first basemen in Outs Above Average (-6).
How does that happen?
All is not lost. Edman is the second-best defensive player in baseball per Outs Above Average and the offense will continue to roll. The pitching staff gives me question marks, but their ace will always anchor the team toward the top of the standings.
Starting pitcher: Adam Wainwright (RHP)
Wainwright continues to roll. The 40-year-old has tossed a remarkable 91 innings through 15 starts this season to the tune of a 3.07 ERA.
But I’m somewhat bearish on Wainwright moving forward. His WHIP is up almost 20 points year-over-year while his 4.21 xERA paints a picture of heavy regression on the horizon.
Uncle Charlie is still worth backing in the prop market if you’re into such things. He’s punched out 38 batters over his past 39 innings and has gone over his listed strikeout total in five of the past six starts.
There isn’t much to say about Wainwright that hasn’t already been said. Expect a steady dose of curveballs (about 30% of the time) as he attempts to force weak contact and ground balls. He’s been fine at the former, but his GB rate is down about 2% from 2021.
Philadelphia Phillies: Schwarber, Hoskins Carrying Offense
On May 29, Schwarber’s OPS dipped below .700 for the first and only time this season. He’s hit 13 home runs and knocked in 29 runs in the 30 games since, slashing .281/.397/.675 in the meantime.
The Phillies are 20-10 in those games.
On the back of Schwarber, the Phillies have been a top-10 offense in June, hitting the fourth-most home runs in the process (43).
But this lineup looks rather stripped down without Harper in the fold. Rhys Hoskins will need to continue to contribute (134 OPS+ so far) and Nick Castellanos needs to rebound ASAP (91 OPS+ so far).
But speaking of defense … the Phillies are arguably the worst fielding team in baseball. They rank 28th in Outs Above Average and 29th in Defensive Runs Saved.
That all starts in the outfield. Harper is a good defensive outfielder, but there are zero good defensive outfielders outside of him. Since Harper got hurt, Castellanos has been the main replacement in right field and he ranks 46th of 47 qualified right fielders in Outs Above Average on the year.
The Phillies have a solid all-around roster, but their defensive performance has actively held the team back. Good thing their pitching staff is anchored by two Cy Young candidates in Aaron Nola and Sunday’s starter …
Starting pitcher: Zack Wheeler (RHP)
There are seven pitchers in MLB with at least 2.6 fWAR this season and Wheeler is one of them.
Outside of Carlos Rodon, nobody on that seven-person list strikes out more batters. Wheeler’s 10.44 K/9 would be a career-high for him and it is an impressive improvement after he posted an average of 8.5 K/9 in his years with the Mets.
Wheeler’s fastball velocity is surprisingly down, but that hasn’t erased the effectiveness of the pitch. He’s allowed just a .256 wOBA on his four-seam so far with a -7 Run Differential, although the xwOBA on the pitch is .284.
Either way, you’re going to get the fastball about 40% of the time. The Cardinals have posted the fifth-highest Weighted Fastball Runs Created this season (25.9), so that could be a problem.
And unlike Wainwright, don’t expect regression from Wheeler. He’s posted a 2.90 xERA to go with his 2.89 ERA and a 2.94 xFIP to boot. Wheeler is going to be good for a long time.
While regression is on the horizon, I continue to find Wainwright undervalued in the betting markets. He’s going to give you five-plus innings of solid ball no matter what.
Wheeler scares me. He’s posted a 4.18 xFIP in four career starts against the Cardinals, while Wainwright has a 3.56 xFIP in 17 career appearances against the Phillies.
Again, the Phillies lineup looks so stripped down with Harper gone. Plus, the Cardinals hold the advantage on both defense and in the bullpen.
All-in-all, we’re catching the Cards on Wainwright day with plus money. That’s as good of a spot as you’re going to get on Sunday Night.
Pick: Cardinals ML (+120 at WynnBet)
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